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105 of 108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A credible account
When I first opened Mike Coburn's "Soldier Five" it became apparent to me that this was a labour of love. The first few pages before we are plunged into the now infamous story immediately inform the reader of Coburn's intentions. Unlike the self gratifying accounts of Ryan and McNab, it is clear that his primary intentions are to clear the name of an upstanding and...
Published on 14 Mar. 2005 by Phil Smith

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More truth than fiction
This is the best book written about the mission carried out by Bravo Two Zero. The author was right to stick to his gunns to fight for its publication so that the truth could be known rather than reading about what other members of the patrol thought what had happened. Well done Mike.
Published on 16 Jan. 2005


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105 of 108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A credible account, 14 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission (Paperback)
When I first opened Mike Coburn's "Soldier Five" it became apparent to me that this was a labour of love. The first few pages before we are plunged into the now infamous story immediately inform the reader of Coburn's intentions. Unlike the self gratifying accounts of Ryan and McNab, it is clear that his primary intentions are to clear the name of an upstanding and proficient soldier in Vince Phillips.
The book kicks off in much the same way as McNab's "Bravo two Zero", describing the build up to the patrol's insertion into the Gulf. I found the lack of macho and self afirming nostalgia regarding the famous SAS banter distinctly refreshing. Coburn discribes eloquently this passage of time. A trend which continues throughout the book.
As any reader of alternative accounts will know, nothing much goes right from the moment they step on the helicopter. I found Coburn to handle the ensuing section of the story with great tact, combining suspense, humour and fact - the latter being an element sadly lacking from McNab and Ryan's books. Distinctly unlike the other books at no point does Coburn use his story as a means to massage his ego regarding his abilities as a soldier or person. This is something which I found to allow me to believe what I was reading - why would I have a reason not to? In fact Coburn constantly references the fact that he really was the 'baby' of the patrol having been selected only some six months prior to engagement.
This combination of elements leads to a thrilling read. Its a definate cliché, but I really could not stop my fingers grabbing at the pages in anticipation of what was to come. His story reaches a crescendo as he comes face to face with an Iraqi private. Imagine then my dismay to turn the page only to find him prattling on about where he was born and where he used to live when he was 8! However, dispite my apprehensions at the story apparently coming to a shuddering halt, the next five chapters turned out to be some of my favourite from the book. We learn of the author's transformation from a failing school rebel to a determined and capable soldier. I won't give too much away, but that in its self is as enjoyable a read as any other part of the book.
After the gloriously gory details given by McNab regarding his torture in his own book, I found myself somewhat disappointed with Coburn's offering. The section entitled 'Guest of Saddam' seemed to me rather brief, and nowhere near as exciting as I had perhaps hoped. Although this is very much to the author's credit; Far from elaborating stories for shock or entertainment value, Coburn appears to give a very straight forward and at times shining account of his treatment by his captors. That said, my one criticism of the book is that it struggles to pick up pace after the description of his capture and the ensuing delve into his past.
I would highly reccomend this book to anyone who has read any previous accounts of the B20 mission. As well as offering Coburn's story in his own words, it also dispells some of the myths surrounding the mission. For those who are not currently acquainted with this story, this is as good a place as any to start. For me, Coburn is a far more proficient author than any of his comrades. This is enhanced by the fact that he is bent on telling the truth and clearing the name of an innocent man. Far from being an elaborate war thriller based loosely on the events of the B20 mission as other books are, this is an honest account of what happened - no bucks passed, no lies told.
For Mike Coburn, this book means everything. He spent his life savings fighting court battle after court battle trying to get it published, and not to read it would be an injustice to not only him, but to Vince Phillips - the man he fought for so long for to clear his name.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brave effort, 2 May 2004
By 
David Bennett (Sheffield, south yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Mike Coburn, Soldier Five is an interesting book in that is gives another perspective on the Bravo Two Zero story. I remember thinking that Andy McNabs version (Bravo Two Zero) was really upbeat and positive and did not paint anyone in a really negative light while Chris Ryans version had the subtitle (the real hero of the mission!) and tended to be far more critical, especially of Vince Philips. I thought at the time that I could see myself following AMN. but not CR. just because of the negativity shown. However Mike's version claims to be written to put the story straight. He is clearly annoyed about the flak that Vince Philips and his family have received! ( Elsewhere on the web we learn that Vince's dad died in sorrow about the spin put on his "perfomance" in the mission). Some heavy suggestions are made in the book about the attitude of the SAS leadership back home to men on the run behind the lines. It would seem that the leadership made the decision that it was not safe to try a rescue and the 8 men were effectively left to their own fate. Mike Coburn clearly sees this as a kick in the teeth and unexpected. The opening line of the CO when they got back was they it had been decided that "there would not be a court martial!". Another slap in the face for guys who had survived what they had gone thru.
Mike Coburn, Soldier Five is a far less upbeat verion of the Bravo Two Zero story than Andy Mcnab's but the last bit of the book outlines the outrageous lengths the UK govt has gone to just to stop the book. Who do we believe? Well I always wondered about the cynical, negative spin that Andy McNab introduced into all his fiction books but I can now see the inspiration for Nick Stone-the guy who is crapped on by the powers that be- Mike Coburn's account gives the basis for this perfectly! Read this book!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!, 14 July 2006
This review is from: Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission (Paperback)
Fantastic book! All the way through the horrifying events of the book, Coburn manages to keep his writing humorous and positive. Very well written indeed, it portrays the story really well. Very good writing. The only negative thing i have to say is it's a real shame he hasn't written any other books!! I have searched for other titles by him for ages and ages, hoping he would write something else like Geordie and Andy, and am tremendously disappointed.

This book was written with a different style from The One That Got Away and Bravo Two Zero; while Bravo Two Zero is gory, horrifying and incredibly depressing, and The One That Got Away (also a fantastic book!!) is a clean-cut quite unemotional depiction of the story, Mike looks at the story from different angles, adds some humour and mixes out a quite optimistic story where he f.ex. sees no need to write about wounds with horrifying detail and description.

A really good read! Absolutely worth your money. You won't be disappointed! Seven stars!!!!
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a credible account from a B20 survivor!, 9 Jun. 2004
By A Customer
If you are interested in this book then you are probably already familiar with the infamous Bravo Two Zero SAS mission and the controversy surrounding it. Soldier Five is the fourth book published about the mission. The first book by patrol leader Andy McNab was entitled "Bravo Two Zero". Chris Ryan, the only member of the patrol who managed to evade death or capture, quickly followed suit with his book, "The One That Got Away". And so began the huge controversy and debate over what really happened during the mission, and where to place blame for its unfortunate outcome (three members of the patrol dead, four captured and tortured, with only one escaping capture or death)
It's been pretty much established that Andy McNab greatly exaggerated and even fabricated a number of key events in his book. It's been shown that Chris Ryan distorted facts and added a few embellishments as well. Ryan also scapegoated the patrol's 2nd in command, Vince Phillips (who died during the mission) for much of what went wrong, portraying him as cowardly and generally incompetent. The other surviving members of B20 as well as others in the SAS adamantly spoke out against Ryan for this.
As of now, there are quite a few books available that deal with the events of Bravo Two Zero. Aside from McNab, Ryan, and Coburn's books, there is also "The Real Bravo Two Zero" by Michael Asher. Peter Ratcliffe also comments briefly on B20 in "Eye of the Storm". For a clear perspective on things, it would be worth examining all the accounts mentioned above and drawing your own conclusion.
After looking at all accounts and making my own analysis, I believe that Soldier Five is the most credible account of the B20 mission. Coburn comes across as a humble, fair, and honorable man whose main motivation is to set the record straight on Bravo Two Zero. In his introduction, Coburn describes his frustration towards all the outrageous claims and controversy surrounding B20. It is also worth noting that another surviving patrol member writes a brief foreword in Soldier Five where he endorses Coburn's account as the credible one and echoes Coburn's sentiments regarding all the hooplah that is already out there.
Coburn's account agrees with some general aspects of Chris Ryan's, although he completely refutes Ryan's scathing indictment of Vince Phillips. Furthermore, whereas Ryan repeatedly portrays himself as the leader and hero of the mission, Coburn does not show Ryan's role as any more significant than that of the other patrol members. Coburn's description of the combat experienced during the mission seems much more credible than previous accounts. The vast majority of the Rambo-like action movie heroics described by McNab (and to a lesser extent, Ryan) are not supported. His account of the mission seems brutally honest, with no glorification or embellishment whatsoever. His analysis of the events is objective, thoughtful, and intelligent.
Soldier Five's middle section deals with Coburn's history in the New Zealand military/special forces and his eventual journey over to the UK SAS. The end of the book also includes an interesting account of the legal battle and personal struggles Coburn had to go through in order to finally get his book published. After finishing the book, I am left with profound respect for Coburn's strong character and personal integrity. He truly exemplifies the quiet professionalism and honor of Special Operations soldiers, and his book is a brutally honest and intelligent examination of a special forces mission gone horribly wrong. After many publications and a great deal of controversy, I believe that Coburn has finally set the record straight. I only hope that his book will reach as wide of an audience as the previous ones have had.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, 25 Mar. 2007
By 
Saturnicus "Saturnicus" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission (Paperback)
After McNab and Ryan's accounts of the Bravo Two Zero mission, the Michael Asher's attempt to straighten it out, Mr Coburn's book comes across as completely honest. This book is definitely worth reading.

Attempts were made by the Govt. to ban this book as it shows up the adventure type editing that they subjected to the works of Andy and Chris.

Mike Coburn had to fight for publication.

Well done!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth The Wait, 13 Mar. 2004
By A Customer
Finally after four and a bit years of high court wrangling Soldier Five has been released. There are no major secrets revealed so why the long wait? After all Peter Ratcliffe who was serving in the SAS when the gagging contract for personnel serving in/working with Special Forces came into effect published his book with few problems. Having read the book I now know why the MoD didn't want it published. It definatly doesn't paint the 'Head Shed' in a glorious light. The fact the Officer Commanding B Sqn told the patrol to head for Syria if they were compromised was the complete opposite of what had come from Regiment where the policy was to head for Saudi. Add to that the cock up with the radio frequencies (they were given radio frequencies that would only work well in Saudi) and the fact that when the patrol did establish communications it was to tell HQ that they were compromised. Despite the fact that the RV was some 20km away from the S60 anti - aircraft weapons a rescue attempt was not allowed. Having read Bravo Two Zero, The One That Got Away and The Real Bravo Two Zero prior to this I would definatly say this is the best of the lot. Unlike Ryan, Coburn doesn't make out that everyone else on the patrol was useless, Coburn doesn't stretch the facts with 20km tabs carrying 15 stones worth of kit or hijacking yellow taxis or go out and interview people who have got a lot of explaining/covering their own backs about the treatment of POW's. This is a good, honest book which will hopefully end the controversy over what actually happened on the patrol. A very good read.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book, 11 April 2005
First of all, I'd like to say that I have read all other accounts of the Bravo Two Zero mission. Each as exciting and interesting as each other. I admire the men of the patrol hugely and do not disgrace them because of their differences in opinions on how the mission went. However I have not ever been able to string in all the different details to be issued with a complete outlook on what happened. This book cleared all the mysteries for me.
Mike Coburn, (a pyseadonym for Mark in the other books) was part of the famous patrol; therfore making it a bit more beleivable. He writes in such a way so that you feel as if you know the soldiers yourself, and infact that you are in the patrol. You share all his experiences just from reading the book, which is quite remarkable.
All the events seem to make sense as well. Considering there have been around 4 accusations for which acctually happened during those 4 days, Coburns series of events seem to add up all four stories and make them make sense. I recently saw Michael Ashers' 'The Real Bravo Two Zero' on television in which he spoke to locals in the Iraqi desert and followed the patrols' route. I thought he did well, however did not beleive much of his story. Some of Coburns' facts tdo indeed fit in with what Asher said. This surprised me, however much of what he said was infact wrong.
I am glad I read this book and am glad that Coburn managed to beat the MoD in court. I think this book is to be reccomended to any person interested in this story, or any military enthusiast. His story I beleive is the truth; but I still hold great respect to the men of Bravo Two Zero.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping account!, 30 Jun. 2004
By A Customer
A fantastic book about bravo 2 zero's mission deep into iraq and the subsequent mistakes,errors and ill fortune to fall at the feet of all involved.Coburn gives a accurate account of what happened during that mission and also tries to clear the names of those unfortunate enough to have fallen and who somehow managed to be on the recieving end of some terrible criticism!
The book dives straight into the action not letting up for one minute and is written with alot of pain and ill feeling still buried deep inside!!!!!!!
All in all a great read and well worth buying.........well if the MoD tried to ban i should think so ....don't you?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest account of one man's war, both on and off the battlefield, 28 May 2009
By 
Tristan Martin (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Mike Coburn's Soldier Five is an honest and humble, first-person account, of the Special Air Service's infamous Bravo Two Zero mission, a behind-enemy-lines 1991 Gulf War operation that went disastrously wrong, from initial planning to the debriefing.

Three books have already been written on the subject "Andy McNab's" Bravo Two Zero was the first, followed by "Chris Ryan's" The One That Got Away, each written by participants. The Real Bravo Two Zero followed some ten years after the events, written by former SAS man Michael Asher, who retraced the steps and interviewed characters from the story, both Iraqi and British. McNab's and Ryan's were both exciting reads but also quite fictitious in important places, as convincingly exposed by Asher. Coburn's book is much in the Asher camp. It portrays genuine deprivation, fear and panic quite honestly, not wallowing in acts of extreme violence; the brave men depicted emerge finally as real people, flawed, resourceful and quite human.

Mike Coburn's battle did not end when the war finished. His fight to get his book published, after at least 90 per cent of it was already in the public domain due to previous books, films and articles, are a sad indictment of a cowardly, Kafkaesque mentality by senior British Ministry of Defence staff. Soldier Five details his legal conflict almost as much as his battlefield story and it is in this, perhaps, where the book's greatest strengths lie: much of the story we already know regarding the awesome physical and mental endurance recounted but how the soldiers were treated initially by their superiors on return is quite shocking, such as being told that they were expendable, hence no rescue attempts ever being launched.

Soldier Five is ultimately an attempt to finally set the record straight. Gone are the Rambo heroics, where hundreds of Iraqis are gunned down (according to McNab), gone is the disgraceful blaming of the mission's compromise on their fallen comrade Vince Phillips (according to Ryan's version), a man who died during the mission and thus unable to defend himself; what remains is a humble (Coburn thanks his Iraqi doctor for saving his foot, which was shot during his capture), human and in places, surprisingly gentle account of one man's war, both on and off the battlefield. Mike Coburn has made a valuable contribution to dispelling the myths regarding the Bravo Two Zero story, told by one who was actually there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the record straight!, 15 Jun. 2008
By 
Matthew Richardson "Triplesix76" (Dundee, UK.) - See all my reviews
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A long time coming but the frustration at more sensationalised accounts of the ill fated patrol is palpable and must have served as a motivation to keep going when the MoD were particularly difficult regarding the publication of this account.

Reads as a very honest down to earth account of a ten year career with special forces. This continues throughout the B20 patrol story and you are left with the impression that the whole truth has finally been presented.

I am realistic about the need for sensationalism in trying to sell books etc. in todays market and why it happens.

I am grateful when a gem of truthfullness such as this comes along and it avoids this course of action and in doing so serves to make its contemporaries, who have prescribed to this,look a little jaded.

My thanks to the author for his perseverance - As a reader I found the book highly enjoyable and was left with tears in my eyes at the conclusion regarding the members of the patrol who did not return.

Respect for there memory and the fact that they were a credit to the Regiment, and more importantly a credit to themselves, family and friends.
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Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission
Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission by Mike Coburn (Paperback - 14 Oct. 2004)
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